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Top Derby contenders work out at Churchill Downs

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Verrazano and Revolutionary were among five Kentucky Derby contenders posting workouts at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning.

Unbeaten Verrazano worked five furlongs in 1:00.20, while Louisiana Derby winner Revolutionary breezed four furlongs in 48:80 with three-time Derby winner Calvin Borel aboard for the first time since being chosen to ride the colt.

Both 3-year-olds are trained by Todd Pletcher, who could have as many as six of the 20 horses in the Derby on May 4.

Other Derby contenders working out were Normandy Invasion, second to Verrazano in the Wood Memorial, who went four furlongs in 48.20; Louisiana Derby runner-up Mylute (four furlongs, 47.80); and Will Take Charge (one mile, 1:41.60).

Verrazano broke behind stable mate Authenticity before finishing just in front. Pletcher said he wanted Verrazano to sit behind another horse and relax before galloping out strong in his first work at Churchill Downs since arriving a week ago.

``I thought he went great,'' Pletcher said. ``He seemed to get over the track well.''

Verrazano broke his maiden on Jan. 1, his first day as a 3-year-old. He is seeking to be the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Derby without racing at age 2.

Mike Battaglia, the track's oddsmaker, has said he will likely install the colt as the Derby's morning line favorite.

Borel was chosen to ride Revolutionary after jockey Javier Castellano decided on Normandy Invasion as his Derby mount. Castellano had ridden Revolutionary in the Louisiana Derby, as well as in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 2 in which he skirted through traffic to win.

Borel called the half-mile breeze ``beautiful'' and suggested that the horse gives him a real chance to add to his Derby wins from 2007, 2009 and 2010.

``He's been through everything that you'd want a Derby horse to go through,'' Borel said. ``I think he has the potential.''

The jockey change again pairs Pletcher and Borel as the two took the 2010 Derby with Super Saver.

``With the success we had with Super Saver, it seemed like a no-brainer to me to go to Calvin,'' Pletcher said. ``I loved the way he got along with the horse this morning. We're excited about it.''

Other Pletcher trainees considered likely for the Derby are Overanalyze, winner of the Arkansas Derby, and Palace Malice and Charming Kitten, second and third, respectively, in the Blue Grass.

Pletcher ranks second with 31 Derby starters, behind only the 45 saddled by his former boss and four-time Kentucky winner, D. Wayne Lukas.

Pletcher had four starters in 2000, his first Kentucky Derby, and again in 2010 when Super Saver won. His five horses in 2007 tied with Lukas (1996) and Nick Zito (2005) for most runners in a single Kentucky Derby.

Winning Cause, who won the Lexington Stakes on Saturday, is the trainer's sixth possible starter. Pletcher said Sunday that he had yet to discuss plans for Winning Cause with the horse's owners.

``My adopted son over there, he's gathering them up,'' said the 77-year-old Lukas, who is expected to have two Derby runners of his own in Will Take Charge and Oxbow. ``I'm glad there's only one more prep or he'd have seven or eight, I think.''

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

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  Mike Dempsey
Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders’ Cup.
Last Year Mike had a solid Triple Crown, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.

Mike has also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby,  winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.

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  Jerry Sessa
Jerry "Shots" Sessa has been involved in horse racing for over 30 years. He now brings his meticulous handicapping style to When Jerry posts picks you are getting his best bets...when you win, he wins.

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